35 comments on “E-mu Systems Emulator III

  1. Great repair job for this rare rack ! Well done
    So how do you like it compared to the dss-1 for example (you know so well ) .
    Best regards,

    • I haven’t used the EIII much (yet). It’s much cleaner sounding and much better designed. The quality of the components is much higher, the wiring is a lot cleaner. There are so many wire harnesses inside the DSS-1 that it can be difficult to put back together. The EIII is a much more advanced unit than the DSS-1, but they each have their own unique sound (IMHO, anyway)

  2. Thank you for sharing your initial thoughts & experience Tom !
    I have an emu Eii + being serviced right now (adding sd floppy emulator and doing an overall check up ), I hope to compare it to one of your Dss-1 soon -).

    Have you ever played an E2 ? Some people say the korg dss-1 has is own sonic signature but in the same family …

    • No I haven’t played an EII, but I hope to have one someday – perhaps once I get more space in my garage….

  3. Hi:

    I have an old Emu Emulator-IV that I use stand-alone with a keyboard. Now it needs repair. When I power up I get jibberish on the screen and no function. Anyone know where I can get this repaired?

    Thanks in advance.


  4. Is this the display? I just acquired my 2nd EIII rack and would love to upgrade to the OLED:


    whats required to install?

    As for question to user for difference between EIII and DSS I believe its a world of a difference. I love the sound of the DSS (as well as the akai s900, prophet 2k, s612, s330, Emax 1/2…) I have found that the amount of time required to learn to program is beyond me currently (both the dss and the p2k can be tedious in programming properly). I usually use the DSS for the factory programs or use the wave generator.

    On the other hand: the Emu systems for their early samples (despite a few personal quirks) are a dream to program. If you have the money tracking an EIII down is certainly worth it, but you cannot go wrong either with an Emax or Emax 2. Programming on the Emu is a dream for a hardware sampler. And as Tom said the EIII is much cleaner sounding, also has 16 individual outputs, built in scsi, strong community support for samples, etc. Not sure the EIII ever gets gritty or dirty sounding, but not sure thats what its intended for and personally that is why i have an emax and an s612 and occasionally the DSS1.


    • Yes, that’s the same part that I used on my display. They have them in green or yellow. You need to take apart the front panel, the old display needs to be desoldered from the header, and the new one installed in the same place. So, philips screwdrivers, small and large, soldering iron, desoldering pump or station. Some flush cutters to trim the ends of the wires from the backlight inverter, or you could remove the inverter altogether.

  5. Hi,

    Did you have to make some modifications on EmulatorIII chassis and front panel PCB’s to fit the new OLED display (screw holes, spacers, etc…)? Is wiring pin to pin compatible?

    Looks great, btw šŸ™‚ Nice work!

    I have Emulator III keyboard, and blue OLED would look great on it.

    Other keyboards I would like to upgrade with OLED is Prophet VS and Kurzweil K1200. I see PCB of Newhaven OLED (16×2 characters) is somehow big (80x36mm). Not sure if screw holes are compatible with VS and K1200 and there is maybe not enough space for larger PCB… Must take old LCD’s out for measurement…



    • With the display I used, no modifications were necessary. You can remove the EL backlight inverter module if you want to. The blue OLED must be new, I haven’t seen that one before. I tried looking for a new display for my own Prophet VS, but the display configuration is not all that common it seems….

      • Tom, thank you for your quick reply and for information.

        As for the OLED display for Prophet VS, why do you think display configuration is not all that common? As I see on VS schematics it’s a standard 8-bit parallel LCD and it perfectly fits Newhaven 16×2 OLED.

        Take a look on these pictures:

        Prophet VS LCD pinout:

        Newhaven OLED pinout:

        My problem with Newhaven is 40$ shipping price for one display to my country (Croatia). It’s quite stupid to pay almost twice for shipping than for item itself so I’ll probably buy all three displays at once (EIII, VS and K1200) as shipping price for three displays is almost same as for one. 91$ (displays) + 42$ (S/H) + 35% customs TAX and VAT in Croatia = 185$!! So, I would like to be sure if displays are compatible before I buy šŸ™‚ If it’s not so expensive I would buy a bunch of their displays and test them all on various synths and studio equipment.

  6. would be great if we could hear those CEM filters
    I think the EIII rack with the larger Ram is the best of the emulator range despite the EI/EII/Emax having SSM filters

  7. Tom,

    If I disconnect the inverter, then I need to find another 5v power lead correct?

    Great looking EIII!


      • sweet, so the 5v was just for the backlight on the old display..did you cut the inverter then? Do you remember where it was?

        Thanks for the quick response..

        FYI, I have a OLED retrofit in my Prohpet VS….I know you were looking into that.

        • The inverter was a module not too far from the display, I desoldered it. You can follow the tracks from the EL backlight leads to the inverter.
          I just installed OLED displays in my Prophet VS keyboard and rack. Used Winstar WEH001602E, worked perfectly with one problem: Test mode does not work correctly. I suspect that the VS uses some of the RAM in the original LCD module as temporary parameter storage (the normal RAM would get wiped out by the tests). The newer OLED module may not have that RAM, or not as much…

  8. Hello,

    We used a NewHaven Display. Part number is NHD-0216KZW-AB5.

    I will have to go check out the test mode to see if it has the same limitation.

  9. Tom,

    Completed one of my two eiiixs displays last night. Pretty easy replacement. Left pin 3 out.

    Amazing results, its like owning a brand new Emulator.

  10. Hello there,

    Don’t wish to bother you much with my slightly unrelated question, but would you happen to know an maintenance expert or repair personnel for Emulators in Japan ?
    I have an EIII unit which needs some attention, but since the prices for shipping abroad are prohibitive, was hoping to seek help locally.
    Any guidance would be much appreciated. And thanks a ton for sharing your experiences.


  11. Hi,
    I’m struggling with an OLED replacement for my E-mu Emulator II

    Replaced the old unusable display with a modern OLED WINSTAR WEH001602EBPP5N.
    Now it shows me only scrambled characters, i’ve read online about an HEX inverter substitution with SN74LS04N, 74HC04B1 but in my case it doesn’t work.

    I’ve read also about a 4n7 cap between pin 1 GND and 6 ( module enable) but also this doesn’t work.

    Any Idea, please?

  12. I had an EIIIxp for a good while there – great sounds but I found the programming arcane. Miss it sometimes! Great post, and thanks for the look inside your restoration effort.

  13. Hi,

    Iā€™m about to do the display switch on my EIII to that Newhaven oled. Why do I need to leave pin 3 out?

    Not an expert…Many Thanks!

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